Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 17–28 | Cite as

Should Access to Credit be a Right?

  • Marek HudonEmail author


Discussion on financial ethics increasingly includes the problem of exclusion of the poorer segments of society from the financial system and access to credit. This paper explores the ethical dimensions surrounding the concept of a human right to credit. If access to credit is directly instrumental to economic development, poverty reduction and the improved welfare of all citizens, then one can proclaim, as Nobel Prize Laureate M. Yunus has done, that it is a moral necessity to establish credit as a right. Arguments both supporting and opposing the concept of a right to credit are presented. While there may be general agreement that access to financial services may provide a pathway out of poverty, granting a universal right could induce perverse effects such as overindebtedness. Bearing in mind the ultimate goal of proponents of this right as well as the potential harmful consequences, this paper offers a new perspective on the question of access to credit based on a goal-right system.


credit financial exclusion human right justice microfinance 

JEL Classifications

B0 O16 Q14 


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This article has been written during a research stay at Harvard University. I thank Tim Scanlon and Amartya Sen for very useful discussions and comments on a first version. I also thank Ariane Chapelle, André Farber, Firas-Eugen Faso, Ruth Hoffman, Marc Labie, Henk Moll, Kim Oosterlinck, Ariane Szafarz, Daniel Traca and Annabel Vanroose for written comments. No agreement with my views, however, should be attributed to these persons, and all errors are entirely my own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Solvay Business SchoolUniversité Libre de Bruxelles (U.L.B.)/FNRS Research FellowBruxellesBelgium

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